Future Theatre’s production of Offside was a fast-paced performance full of energy and intensity, exploring the role of football as a tool in the search for women’s freedom, stretching from the late 19th century to today. The cast of three actresses allowed the audience to become fully immersed in the lives of the characters and their football-fuelled world, ensuring that women’s struggle for freedom was effectively communicated, if somewhat bluntly at times.
This is a feminist play which uses football as a springboard to explore the changing position of women throughout history. Events, such as women gaining the vote and taking on typically male jobs during the First World War, were fluidly interwoven into the contemporary story of two women’s journey to play for the England football team.
Due to the small size of the cast, each actress played multiple roles, effectively indicating a change of role through quick costume changes and shifts in accent. This presented a challenge for each of the women (Daphne Kouma, Tanya-Loretta Dee and Jessica Butcher), which they all took on with great energy and skill. Although some of the smaller roles fell flat in terms of dialect and depth of performance, the two main roles, Mickey (Dee) and Keeley (Butcher), were highly nuanced and sensitively performed.
This story of two modern, female footballers was produced most authentically; the audience couldn’t help but connect with the confident Mickey and more reserved Keeley. The mixture of humour and vulnerability accurately portrayed the highs and lows of life as a female footballer in a thoroughly entertaining way.
Moreover, these powerful characters were effectively portrayed in distinct ways. A particular highlight was when the two women were in the changing room before their first match representing England, where their fear and excitement was almost tangible. Not only in this scene but throughout the entire play, the strong connection between these two women was impressively communicated in both their shared struggles and the physicality of their acting.
The play itself was well-written but repetitive. Frequent monologues were given to the different characters throughout history which, despite their different stories, began to blur into one due to the utilisation of similar assertive language. However, this made the dialogue effective in reflecting the theme of football and the continuation of their obstacles. Furthermore, it allowed us to focus on the raw, intense energy of the acting intricately intertwining with the dynamic nature of the performance.
The execution of this message was at times too blunt and direct, making the message too obvious to give the performance the depth it had the potential of possessing. Yet, Offside is undeniably a play with unscrupulous morals and a powerful message successfully communicated in the nuanced, perceptive portrayals of Mickey and Keeley’s struggles as women to achieve their dreams. One cannot help but leave feeling utterly empowered from such an affecting performance.
Photo courtesy of the Traverse Theatre